By Uche Nnadozie
It was another successful outing for the National Gallery of Art as the second Kaduna Art Fair came to an end. The fair which is the second in the series featured a collection of 60 works of 42 artists out of over 100 artists working in the National Gallery of Art (NGA).
These artists/public servants set their creative tools and corresponding media of oil, acrylic, water colour (painting); found objects, fiber, wood (sculpture); clay (ceramic); fiber (textile); pencil (drawing); printing ink and gauges (printmaking); camera (photography) and computers (digital art) into artistic motion with the intention of reverberating into the consciousness of their numerous and enthusiastic viewers with the message of unity and peaceful co-existence in Nigeria under the theme, Together Again.
Most of the works advocate unity and peaceful co-habitation bearing in mind also the location of the event – Kaduna – a city that has been under security challenges in recent times.
Thus, the second Kaduna Art Fair is NGA’s means of using exhibitions among other cultural fiestas to preach the message of peace. The exhibition also gave the staff of NGA the opportunity to once again drop the pens and files for their various art tools; in other words from the office to studio.
In “Signs and Symbols,” Uche Nnadozie celebrates the numerous creative freedom within the printmaking technique reminiscent of that of the celebrated master printmaker and his “ibiebe” iconographic tendencies but retaining an imprimatur of Nnadozie.
The work is a horizontally arranged totem, lavishly enriched with designs in folkloric motifs, thus lending credibility to the continuum of modern art from the old order of traditional art. Hauwa Tijani’s “Bond” (Acrylic on Canvas) is pictorially electrifying with warm, vibrant and aesthetically pleasing colours garnished skillfully with a motif that a careless glance at the work could mistake it for the master water colorist – Sam Ovraiti’s.
It comprises of light- yellow-orchre, warm red/orange basking in the company of purple of all shades at the base and background.
In Zinbe Gushi’s “Distraction,” the imagery depicts a young self-assuming and attractive lady with a handset either pinging or sending a text message to one of either her numerous admirers or “customers” judging by her posture. It is a figure of a young lady, whose dress treacherously and intentionally exposes about 80 % of her breast from a sleeveless dress with heavy facial make-up, fiddling with a blackberry or so it seems.
The background of the feminine figure, of the 100x80cm painting are the symbols of various social media services available such as facebook, twitter, whatzap, youtube, skype, BB (blackberry) etc. The artist seems to use the feminine attraction to depict the worrisome effect of social media in our society, both at individual or collective level.
Probably due to the prevailing insurgency in some parts of the country and its attendant socio-economic, political, cultural and religious implications, Muktar Ahmed quickly reminds Nigerians about the Nigerian civil war which ended 44 years ago.
The “Nigerian civil war” is a nostalgic painting rendered in mix media, depicting tanks, jet fighters, hand grenades, solders in action as well as littered carcasses and skulls. The work is rendered in bright orange, red, blue, green, rich Prussian –blue which is at intervals and randomly assisted with white colour which serves as highlights.
Bridget Mundung’s “Food for all” and “Fish for all” are aesthetically pleasing. The ceramic wares (fire clay) reveal not only the utilitarian purposes of these works but the aesthetic quality they bear.
Other artists who through their creative construction of forms and ingenious manipulation of media produced aesthetically inviting works include Apev Amos with his sculptural piece, “Celebrate,” . Iyun-ome by Chris Obadan, Ajene Isegbe’s Mercy, Tom Sunday’s “Eka Nkoyo” and Uche Mbele whose dexterity at producing 2 dimensional sculptural/pictorial art pieces using welded steel, cannot be overemphasized.
His 2 dimensional sculptural pieces titled, “Have a Seat: and “Make I Jist Una” are both socio- politically inclined in terms of message. The works depict the importance of Nigeria remaining as one, indivisible nation and a testimony to Mbele’s mastery of figurines, anatomy, body language/movement.
While Isioma Dogo’s photographs are more socio-philosophical with her works such as “Fallen Hero,” Bala Afen’ Oko, another “photo-artist” reveals a mastery of color manipulation, printing skills and dexterity in his photograph – “Spot of yellow”- a black and white photograph depicting a moving van loaded with fired pot traversing an open plain somewhere in the Savannah region.
Amarachi Okafor used her mixed media painting, “Transatlantic Rippled 1: Ebola” to remind us of the deadly virus Ebola and its trailing scourge. Through her work she is saying –”it is not over until it is over.” Tony Okpe, Mufu Onifade and Joy Iorvihi are commended for their skillful manipulation of their media as well as their commitment to pursuance of technical excellence.
According to Abdullahi Muku, DG, NGA, the Art Fair is aimed at enhancing art professionalism within a strict civil service environment. It is also a balancing act in the sense that the art staff had to go “through an undulating process of sharing and balancing their time in between their art profession and administrative duties,” he further asserted.